We’re counting down to another regeneration Doctor Who, although exactly who will replace Jodie Whittaker to become the Fourteenth Doctor remains a closely guarded secret. (No it is not Tom Holland.) But the BBC dropped a teaser for this weekend Legend of the monkfishone of three special episodes will air this year to mark Whittaker’s final days as the thirteenth Doctor.
As previously reported, the recently completed Season 13 was particularly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. (This is the 13th season since the franchise rebooted in 2005, not the 13th season since the show debuted the day after Kennedy’s assassination). Instead of the usual 13 episodes, S13 only planned eight because of the pandemic. Ultimately, showrunner Chris Chibnall decided to shorten the season to just six episodes, with a full narrative arc rather than the episodic structure typical of the series. (The decision is not unprecedented, however. The Trial of a Time Lord 1986 was also a complete narrative.)
In all, the arc was subtitled with six episodes flow. In it, the Doctor and her companions encountered a universe-ending anomaly aimed at killing the Doctor. The crew also faced a hodgepodge of classic Whovian alien races: the Goodthe cybermenthe Sontaranand the weeping angels. While some critics found the narrative arc confusing – almost inevitable when the Weeping Angels are involved – and found the finale disappointing, it was generally a solid season.
Conspicuously absent flow were the Daleks, but that was because Chibnall saved them for the first holiday special, Eve the Daleks, which aired on New Year’s Day. The special introduced a new breed of Dalek, the Dalek Executioners, who sought revenge on the Doctor for her actions in the S13 finale. The Doctor and her companions, Yaz and Dan, are caught in a time warp thanks to a TARDIS reset (necessary to repair the TARDIS after damage caused by the Flux). Each time the loop reset, it shortened by a minute and was scheduled to collapse completely at midnight.
Legend of the monkfishin comparison, is a classic Doctor Who period history. In it, our heroic Time Lord meets a famous figure from the past – in this case, a notorious pirate queen of 19th-century China Zheng Yi Sao, also known as Madame Ching. Historians speculate that Madame Ching, who was born in 1775, may have started out as a prostitute or madame in a floating brothel.
Her life changed forever in 1801 when she married notorious pirate Zheng Yi, who came from a long line of pirates. Madame Ching proved a valuable asset, using her diplomatic skills to help her husband consolidate the various pirate fleets into a loose confederation. Each fleet had its own distinctive flag color (red, black, blue, white, yellow, and purple), and Zheng Yi assumed command of the largest red flag fleet.
When Zheng Yi died in November 1807 at the age of 42 – falling overboard during a storm in what seems an ignominious end for a pirate – Madame Ching took over the entire Confederacy. She had the support of Zheng Yi’s nephew as well as his adopted son Zhang Bao. (“Adopted” is not entirely accurate; the boy was kidnapped from his family when he was 15 and forced into piracy. It seems to have been a common practice.) While Bao took over his father’s command of the Red Flag Fleet, there was he clearly not the boss. Historical records show that Bao obeyed his stepmother’s instructions and “consulted her in all matters before acting.” The two were also in a relationship.
Many battles and much looting followed, but growing opposition from the Chinese Qing government, the East India Company and the Portuguese Empire – all of whom suffered significant casualties to the pirate confederacy – eventually grew too powerful. This came as the Pirate Confederacy showed cracks in solidarity: the leader of the Black Flag Fleet, Guo Podai, openly fought Bao in late 1808 and surrendered to Chinese authorities shortly thereafter.
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